Christie: Why our debate over banning plastic straws is really starting to suck

Because of sights like this, more and more people are open to banning plastic straws. (Photo provided by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.)

The debate over single-use plastic straws is building up fast. But what really sucks is that there is any debate at all — especially in coastal counties like Palm Beach.

Do we really need to use plastic straws?

On Sunday, my wife and I ate lunch at one of our favorite spots, the Old Key Lime House in Lantana (two reasons: UF Gators, and shrimp and grits). Our waiter brought us glasses of water, but did not give us straws until we asked.

He explained that the iconic restaurant, which sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, is moving away from using plastic straws because of the environment and potential dangers to marine life — like our beloved sea turtles. Apparently, even if folks don’t intentionally throw straws into the water, many end up there through carelessness or error.

Diane Buhler uses this cup of straws to illustrate plastic pollution on the beaches during her lectures. (Palm Beach Daily News)

For, example, the waiter said straws drop on the floor and are then blown out into the Intracoastal. According to conservationists, sunlight and wave action then break the plastics down into rice-sized bits that are consumed by marine life and become part of the food chain.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post FREE weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

So the Old Key Lime House is phasing the plastic straws out over the next couple of years and going with biodegradable paper straws.

Turns out, they’re not the only local restaurant or resort that environmentally-conscious. Tired of waiting for local government officials to get their act together, outfits like the Breakers and Surfside Diner are taking the matter of purging plastic straws into their own hands.

“We are committed to the environment and sustainability and have been working along these lines for many years now,” said Nick Velardo, the Breakers’ vice president of food and beverage operations, told the Palm Beach Daily News’ William Kelly.

Even corporate behemoth Starbucks has said it will get rid of plastic straws in its 28,000 outlets by 2020.

But local government officials are indeed listening. Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay plans to propose at the council’s Wednesday meeting that it refer the issue of banning single-use plastic straws to its Ordinances, Rules and Standards Committee for study.

“There’s no reason why we have to have these things,” Lindsay told the Daily News.

The lunch crowd at Daniel Ponton’s Surfside Diner use paper straws in their beverages. Ponton plans to provide only paper straws this season at Club Colette. (Meghan McCarthy / Daily News)

In Jupiter, the town’s beach committee unanimously recommended on July 23 a resolution to ban plastic straws to the City Council. The committee did not support an ordinance, as some people wanted, which would have fined businesses for using plastic straws. So the council instead unanimously approved a resolution to start a town-wide education campaign — which they hope will allow for a friendlier approach and emphasize education.

RELATED: The final straw: Jupiter council supports education, not plastic ban

The Delray Beach City Commission is considering phasing in a ban on plastic straws as part of a proposed ordinance requiring restaurants, bars and other beverage purveyors to supply plastic straws only upon customers’ request.

Miami Beach. Fort Myers Beach. Sanibel Island. An ever-growing number of Florida municipalities are seeing their role as protectors of the waters and environment that many of their businesses thrive on as something that needs to be taken a bit more seriously.

In St. Petersburg, business owners and elected officials in April unveiled a “No Straws St. Pete” campaign that asks restaurants and residents to voluntarily curb their use of plastic straws and utensils. As of early June, more than 100 businesses were participating.

And it’s not just Florida. The cities of Seattle as well as Oakland and Berkeley in California have all banned the straws, and similar legislation is pending in Hawaii.

So why can’t this be done everywhere; or should it be?… Take our poll and leave a comment here.

Facebook Live: Teens talk about Parkland shooting’s impact, gun violence

Call them Generation Parkland.

Though they were miles from the gunfire that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four months ago, they have been changed by it nonetheless.

“People are still devastated by these events,” said Donyea James, who just finished her junior year at American Heritage Boca/Delray High School. “It’s always on your mind: ‘What if it happens at my school? What if it would happen if I’m outside, or if I was the bathroom?'”

After the shootings, Keyiela Wilborn said she began checking on friends’ and classmates’ moods. The Palm Beach Lakes High school senior was looking for signs of possibly dangerous disquiet and encouraging them to talk if things are getting them down.

“It’s hard after these events to look at people the exact same way as you did before,” said Wendon Roberts of Spanish River High School. “But instead of thinking, ‘Oh, he’s being weird, I just better stay away from him,’ you have to think of it as, ‘Maybe this person really needs help.’ And that can stop a lot of these problems.”

Six teenagers, referred by the Urban League of Palm Beach County, talked with Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page, about the impact of gun violence in their communities and on their psyches. The Wednesday evening discussion was broadcast on Facebook Live.

The mass shooting at the Broward County high school spurred activism in the Palm Beach County students: they marched, held vigils, started organizations. “You want to do something not just to raise awareness, but to make a change,” James said.

Sterling Shipp and a friend had started a political science social group in the fall at Palm Beach Gardens High School. After Parkland, gun violence was the subject of every meeting. Attendance swelled. Even teachers came.

“It allowed us to have open dialogue,” Shipp said. “A lot of students came out, because they’re passionate about this.”

Gun violence hit close to home in other ways.

Wilborn said that, growing up in West Palm Beach and having relatives in Miami, “we hear about shootings all the time.” She knew a boy, “a wonderful kid, football player,” shot to death about a year and a half ago.

Roberts said that a classmate in 6th grade named Eduardo was killed along with his mother and brother in a domestic-violence shooting.

Christian Morales, just graduated from Suncoast High School, said a close friend and classmate named Brandon was shot and wounded in a drive-by while going for a walk with his brother.

Watch here:

Christie: Thankful Hurricane Irma wasn’t worse, but we can’t dodge bullets forever

Police turn around traffic attempting to cross the bridge on Lake Avenue after the passing of hurricane Irma in Lake Worth. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

We, meaning Palm Beach County, “were damn lucky.”

Basically, that was the assessment in my editorial following Hurricane Irma last year. The massive storm looked like it was going to swallow the entire state as it approached us from the south after beating the snot out of Puerto Rico and Cuba in the Caribbean.

That’s not to say Irma didn’t leave a mark here, of course. Power and cellular service outages, tens of thousands of folks in shelters, tons of debris and hundreds of non-functioning traffic lights made life miserable for a lot of us for a while. Enough so, as the Post’s Kimberly Miller recounts today, that many residents still “believe they survived much worse during the September tempest, and aren’t keen to hear otherwise.”

RELATED: Hurricane Season 2018: Think you survived a Cat 4 here? Not even close

Well, we need to listen up and get real. Not to belittle anyone’s feeling of suffering, but we should be thankful we didn’t get Irma’s worst. Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico can’t say that.

And as the 2018 Atlantic storm season kicks off today, we need to take whatever lessons learned from our Hurricane Irma “test run” and apply it to this year.

Because we can’t dodge bullets forever.

So following is my Sept. 13, 2017 editorial in full… Thanks for listening, and be prepared.

Editorial: Hurricane Irma spared Palm Beach County its worst

We were lucky, Palm Beach County.

Hurricane Irma, after taunting us for days with its record-breaking size and power, spared us its worst.

It may not seem that way to some. Not if you’re one of the roughly 300,000 residents still without power. Not if you’re one of the thousands of residents of Delray Beach and unincorporated county who still can’t flush their toilets. And not if you’re the parent of one of the School District’s 193,000 students who won’t return to school until Monday — at the earliest.

But we were.

You see, dozens of people here weren’t left dead in Irma’s wake as in the Caribbean. A quarter of our homes here weren’t made uninhabitable as they were in the Florida Keys. There was no 10- or 15-foot storm surge here as was seen in tiny Goodland on Marco Island.

A skateboarder takes advantage of a sidewalk damaged by uprooted trees along South Olive Avenue just north of Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach after Hurricane Irma. The road was blocked in both directions. (Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post)

We are instead left with some trees down, spot flooding, long gas station lines and a chance to show some gratitude.

There are, of course, those who, ready to hurl the asinine “fake news” moniker, complaining that the media over-hyped the storm. Really? Yes, we should be skeptical of hype — especially from dubious sources. But when the National Weather Service says the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean is headed in your direction, the prudent thing is to shutter the house, grab the kids and get the hell out of the way.

No less than Gov. Rick Scott, himself no fan of the media, wasted no time in taking this monster of a storm seriously and pleading with us daily to do the same.

As The Post’s Kimberly Miller reported, “Mother Nature stepped in to tweak Irma’s plan” to deliver a worst-case scenario for our county.

“By the grace of Cuba’s northern coast, which was abraded by Irma before the strong Cat 4 hurricane reached the Florida Straits, and a tongue of dry air sucked into its massive, state-swallowing wind field, the storm weakened slightly and couldn’t regain strength before making its first landfall Sunday morning at Cudjoe Key,” Miller wrote.

And according to Jonathan Erdman, a senior digital meteorologist at Weather.com: “There are just so many little subtle things that can make all the difference. After it hit the Keys, it took a more due north path instead of north-northwest and that drove the eye wall ashore near Marco Island, which started weakening it.”

Weakened, but not inconsequential. In its wake, Irma left billions of dollars in damage and thousands of people across the Florida Peninsula who could use a hand — in shelters, in nursing homes, and yes, even next door.

Yes, the vast majority of us were damn lucky.

As good a time as any to show some gratitude, and volunteer to help those that weren’t.

Post’s Christie, Goodman tell WPTV’: ‘South Florida sea-level rise threat is real’

The Intracoastal Waterway between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach an hour after high tide. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

We’ve been beating the drum on the issue for weeks now: The message that there is no graver threat to the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. By 2060, the sea is predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.

RELATED: Editorial: Wake up, South Florida! Speak up on sea-level rise

The editorial boards of The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald — with reporting help from WLRN Public Media — have joined hands in an unprecedented collaboration this election year to raise awareness about the threat facing South Florida from sea-level rise. Our goal is to inform, engage, provoke and build momentum to address the slow-motion tidal wave coming our way.

The collaboration is called The Invading Sea.

To that end, we (Post Editorial writer Howard Goodman and me) went on WPTV-Channel 5‘s  “To the Point” to discuss the threat of sea level rise with host Michael Williams.

As we’ve said previously, most South Floridians get it. The Yale Climate Opinion Maps show 75 percent of us believe global warming is happening, even if we don’t all agree on the cause. We understand that when water gets hotter, it expands. And warmer waters are melting the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt — and make no mistake, it’s melting at an increasing clip — scientists say ocean waters could rise 20 feet.

The problem is, too few of us are convinced sea-level rise will personally harm us in our lifetimes. We’ve got to change that mind-set because it already is. Lila Young, who has lived on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach for 30 years, said she’s seen the king tides progressively getting higher and flooding her neighborhood more often.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

Palm Beach County is fortunate to have a slightly higher elevation, which means the risks aren’t quite so acute here as for our neighbors to the south. Still, the high-priced real estate on the barrier islands is equally vulnerable, along with the low-lying mainland along much of West Palm Beach’s Flagler Drive. As the sea level rises, the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee will drain more and more slowly after a major rainfall. And when significant hurricanes and floods hit farther south, we may see a sudden flood of people from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Are we ready? Are we taking the threat of sea-level rise seriously enough?

Christie: Post readers react to Sinclair, WPEC ‘fake news’ editorial

If you’d never heard of Sinclair Broadcast Group — the nation’s largest owner of local television stations — before this week, don’t fret about it.

And don’t worry if you didn’t know that they owned Palm Beach County’s WPEC-Channel 12.

You were in good company. But that’s all changed now.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Pbpo.st/opinionsignup

Sinclair Broadcast, which is pretty tight with President Donald Trump’s White House and pushes a conservative political agenda through its stations, gained infamy earlier this week when word got out that it forced news anchors at its 170-plus stations to read a “must-run” statement/editorial about “fake news” which also cast aspersions on its media brethren.

And yes, that on-air diatribe included respected WPEC news anchors Liz Quirantes and John Discepolo.

Needless to say, a number of WPEC viewers didn’t take the news very well, hammering the station on social media — Facebook and Twitter — as well as its own website. (It apparently had to shut down comments on the latter, at least temporarily.)

RELATED: Ex-reporter from Sinclair-owned WPEC calls out the company

Sinclair Broadcast Group stations, including WPEC-CBS12 in West Palm Beach, have come under fire for reading a “must-run” editorial about fake news that also cast aspersions on other media. (NBC News)

The Post has been getting some angry letters to the editor about the Sinclair controversy — which its chairman is unapologetic for, by the way.

For example, there was this letter from James Taffuri, of Jupiter:

Dump Channel 12 for unbiased TV news

Thank you to Frank Cerabino for finally exposing the cloak and dagger airing of editorial content by Boris Epshteyn, mandated by a biased corporate parent but fraudulently disguised as a local cut-in. (“Setting the record straight on Channel 12’s fake-news editorial,” Monday)

The clearly ethical conduct needed would be to either clearly label the content for what it is, via disclaimer, or allow for a rebuttal afterward, i.e. a point/counterpoint.

I, for one, discovered these shenanigans a while back and quickly dumped Channel 12 as my local news provider after many years as a viewer. I have found Channel 5 or Channel 25 do the job quite nicely.

We all know the “ones to turn to ” (MSNBC or Fox) to receive our national or international news coverage with whatever slant we choose. Can’t we please leave our local stations as a sacred source for unbiased news and investigative reporting affecting our community?

Truly sad and sickening. [READ MORE]

And this one from Judith Abramson of Delray Beach:

Vigilance needed to spot fake news

Sinclair Broadcast Group is probably the most powerful company you’ve never heard of. The conservative giant owns around 170 TV stations across the country, including our local West Palm Beach CBS affiliate,WPEC. Sinclair has been pushing its right-wing agenda since the Bush administration and, like Fox, has close ties to Trump.

It’s been reported that they order their local anchors to read corporate-written editorials to push their views and criticize other new sources.

This is just another example — as with the plethora of information coming out about Cambridge Analytical, the targeting citizens on Facebook, Russian bots flooding social media every single day and their proven meddling in our elections — at mind control.

I implore my fellow citizens to be more vigilant and realize that they must scrutinize what they hear and read and try to sort out what is opinion and what is real news and not be manipulated. [READ MORE]

WPEC-CBS12 news anchor Liz Quirantes and fellow evening anchor John Discepolo (not pictured) read the “fake news” editorial on-air. (Courtesy of WPEC-CBS12)

So here’s what makes all the Sinclair must-run editorial so concerning to many readers and viewers.

The company is trying to get even bigger. By owning and operating a total of 193 stations nationwide, Sinclair already covers far more than any other station owner.

It is currently trying get Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval to buy Tribune Media’s 42 local stations, allowing Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households.

Previously, Sinclair was prohibited from serving more than 39 percent of households under a statute of the Telecommunications Act.

Last year, however, Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, under chairman Ajit Pai, brought back to life the technologically obsolete “UHF Discount” rule. The rule, from the pre-digital era when local stations were hard to tune in to, allowed local stations to be counted as a fraction of the 13 “normal” stations found on the “top dial.”

Of course, today most people get all of the old UHF channels as easily as “top dial” channels, making Trump’s resurrection of the old rule not only silly but clearly in violation of both the letter and spirit of the Telecommunications Act. Free Pass and other activist groups are currently suing to prevent the UHF “loophole” and the Sinclair-Tribune purchase from going further, but with corporate masseuse Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, don’t hold your breath.

And while Trump is green-lighting Sinclair, he’s been blocking AT&T’s purchase of CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, saying “it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

That would just happen to be the same CNN that Trump repeatedly labels as “fake news,” the same sentiments that Sinclair just happened to echo in its recent collective Trump incantation.

But does Sinclair — and by extension, WPEC — really deserve all of this grief?

Take our poll and tell us what you think:

Christie: Are we painting PBC sober homes with too broad a brush?

Matthew Anderson talks with his attorney during a court hearing in May. Anderson, owner of two Palm Beach County sober homes where police responded to 28 calls last year — including six overdoses — was arrested on multiple counts of patient brokering. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

As Palm Beach County seems to sink further into an opioid crisis that continues to kill people with impunity, a question arises as to the proper villain in this tragedy.

Operators of sober homes, those treatment centers where many addicts reside to help kick their habit, are increasingly concerned that too much government time — and money — is being spent on cleaning up their industry rather than actual treatment.

That appears to be the gist of Sunday’s “Point of View” op-ed penned by licensed psychologist Rachel Needle.

One could argue that the fact that fentanyl is now killing more people than heroin in Florida bolsters her point that more focus should be on treatment.

RELATED: Fentanyl killing more in Florida than heroin: CDC report

What do you think?

POINT OF VIEW: Treatment is vital to addicts’ recovery

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg testified recently to Congress about sober home abuses.

While politicians, prosecutors and many others often speak about the two interchangeably, a sober living facility (aka sober home) is not the same as a substance use disorder treatment center (aka rehab, treatment center).

Sober homes are group homes where people who are in recovery live together. Some sober homes are affiliated with treatment centers, while others are not. Living in a sober home — and paying rent, buying their own food, living by rules, remaining sober — helps a person in recovery take responsibility for their life and regain their independence.

Palm Beach County chief assistant state attorney Al Johnson, left, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, and State Attorney Dave Aronberg, right, announce that a grand jury has issued 15 recommendations to combat the opioid crisis in Palm Beach County last December. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

A treatment center is where an individual struggling with abuse of alcohol or drugs goes to get treatment. At treatment centers, there are licensed mental health professionals and physicians involved in treatment. There are different levels of care at treatment centers, including detox, residential, day/night treatment (sometimes referred to as partial hospitalization), intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment.

“The majority of sober homes in South Florida” (which is where I can speak to) are not “flophouses.” As in all industries, there are people who are unethical and take advantage of the system. Luckily, Aronberg and the Sober Home Task Force have made significant progress with that problem in South Florida. They have written and passed new legislation, and arrested those with unethical and illegal practices.

Maybe it is time that we move on to what I see as the biggest issue (besides the societal issue we have), and that is the insurance companies.

Of course, there are negative things in the world of substance use disorder treatment, but we are leaving out a lot of the positives.

In most cases, people are not overdosing and dying because of bad sober homes. They are overdosing and dying because they are abusing substances, their tolerance is lower after being sober for a period of time, the drugs are more potent or synthetic, and because the insurance companies do not give people the time they need in treatment to have the highest chance at success. Research has shown that the longer you are in treatment, the more likely you are to remain sober. It also tells us that the longer you stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol, the more likely you are to continue being abstinent.

Unethical and illegal sober home operators are few and far between. South Florida has many great treatment providers and a lot of individuals who are getting help, changing their lives for the better, and staying sober. We should highlight some of those success stories.

Do your research on a treatment center or sober home before going or sending a loved one to make sure it is a reputable and legitimate place. I assure you, there are incredible treatment centers and sober homes in South Florida that have helped thousands of people. Let’s shift this conversation once and for all.

RACHEL NEEDLE, FORT LAUDERDALE

Editor’s note: Rachel Needle is a licensed psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida and an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University.

Goodman: Hurricane Irma: For us, catastrophe averted. But still not much fun.

Downed trees at the beach at Delray Beach after Hurricane Irma, Sept. 11, 2017 (Palm Beach Post / Howard Goodman)

Ah, the sound of chainsaws in the morning.

Sure beats the whistle of high-speed winds all night.

We awoke this morning to a house that still had power. Which told us right away that 1) we were extraordinarily lucky, and 2) our Hurricane Irma experience was a lot less than we had braced ourselves for.

The difference was that westward shift, which we began hearing about on Saturday morning if my blur of a memory has it right. Instead of blasting her way up the east coast of Florida — which would have chewed up Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — Irma didn’t turn north until she put Marco Island, Naples and Tampa Bay in her sights.

Instead of the direct hit we’d feared, we got pelted by outer bands of the hurricane. A lot of wind. A lot of rain. Now and then a tornado warning or an alert of high winds coming, possibly 80 or 90 mph.

It was a long weekend of staying in the house and watching TV as long as we could, thankful that WPTV-NewsChannel 5 weatherman Steve Weagle knows so much and explains so calmly.

We tried to block out the wind sounds. Scurried to our safe room — a bathroom outfitted with flashlights and snacks — when Weagle said destructive winds were heading just our way.

Amazingly, this was going on while the eye of this storm was around Naples — about 150 miles away. I’m still trying to absorb the immensity of this thing. To think that the same storm brought flooding to Miami, to Naples, to Jacksonville…

Our refuge was west of Boynton Beach, around the area of Lyons and Hypoluxo Roads. As we took a look around in our car this morning, it was obvious that Irma had treated us much better than Wilma or Jeanne. We saw downed limbs and drove through intersections missing stoplights — but there were far more trees that looked unhurt, many stoplights were working, and Publix, Winn Dixie and Walgreens stores were open and attracting customers.

We drove east to Federal Highway and then south through Boynton to downtown Delray Beach, and saw that Ellie’s 1950s Diner had lost part of her marquee. Here, power outages looked almost universal. There was a long line of cars queued up on Federal, south of Woolbright Road, but they weren’t waiting for gas. It was a McDonald’s, hot food and coffee being the important thing if you were emerging from a house that hadn’t had power for hours.

But very few roofs appeared damaged. It looked like we won’t be seeing blue tarps all over this part of the county, as we did for weeks after the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes.

Ellen and I checked our condo, which is in Hypoluxo, near the Intracoastal Waterway. We had abandoned it on Friday, spooked by the dire storm surge warnings, not sure when we’d be able to get back in. Somehow… it was perfectly fine. The building even had electricity; I couldn’t believe it. A neighbor said power had stayed on all through the storm, went out at 8 this morning, then returned around 10.

Another neighbor, who lives closer to the water, had ridden out the hurricane in his apartment to keep his eye on storm surge. He said the Intracoastal had seeped over the sea wall but gone no further.

The storm was flukey. A neighbor who lives in an opposite building had lost power early on Sunday, he thought. Or maybe Saturday. It was hard to sort everything out. At the construction site next door on our other side, there was evidence that a tornado had hit; some small, newly planted trees were lying on the ground in opposite directions from each other. Coulda been us.

We went to Ellen’s parents’ home, atop a tall condo building on Delray’s barrier island. Police were allowing only residents across the bridge, but Ellen had her father’s ID and the cop let us through. There was no electricity and, as throughout Delray, no one can use toilets or bath tubs; the city’s sewage pumping stations are without power.

Her parents, who are in their 90s and unable to take of themselves, are with their caregiver in central Florida. It’s a good thing we checked their place. The refrigerator and freezer were full of food, left behind during a frenzied evacuation. The food was starting to stink. We threw it all out.

More than 530,000 customers in Palm Beach County were lacking power at midday today — maybe 1 million people. That’s a lot of disruption. For those who aren’t reconnected for days, it will be miserable. Lots of folks in Palm Beach County are going to need help. We’ve all got to be good neighbors to each other.

Goodman: Delray Beach: All American City and ‘relapse capital’ all at the same time

Suzanne Spencer, former executive director of the Delray Beach Drug Taskforce, and Delray Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman speak at a 2015 press conference about heroin overdoses and deaths in the city. (Photo by Hannah Winston)

Delray Beach this week became the first city in the state to win the All America City Award for a third time.

This same week, the city also gained national attention for being “the biggest relapse capital.”

In a lengthy front-page article on Wednesday, the New York Times documented the town’s unwanted status as one of the worst-hit centers of the opioid epidemic.

“Here, heroin overdoses long ago elbowed out car crashes and routine health issues as the most common medical emergencies,” writes reporter Lizette Alvarez. “Last year, Delray paramedics responded to 748 overdose calls; 65 ended in fatalities. In all, Palm Beach County dealt with 5,000 overdose calls.”

The story rightly emphasizes that, unlike other places reeling from rampant opioid addiction, “most of the young people who overdose in Delray Beach are not from here.” They come from the Northeast and Midwest in search of drug treatment “in a town that has long been hailed as a lifeline for substance abusers.”

But as the Palm Beach Post has exhaustively reported, that treatment industry has been corrupted by bad actors who use insurance fraud to reap huge illicit profits and cynically thrust recovering addicts deeper into addiction.

“We have these people sending us their children to get healthy,” Dave Aronberg, the county’s state attorney, says in the Times, “and they are leaving in ambulances and body bags.”

Delray won the All American City Award for its efforts to advance early literacy. The honor is bestowed by the National Civic League, founded in 1894 by urban reformers including Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Law Olmstead and Louis Brandeis.

The city founded a board that worked with schools, parents and city leaders combat the summer slide, boost school attendance and prepare beginning students for school. The result, officials said: a 25 percent bump in grade-level reading from kindergarten through third grade in Delray schools.

Delray previously was named an All American City in 1993 and 2001.

No doubt, Delray leaders would rather their city be best known for its literacy-boosting virtues. But the Times story on the seaside town’s dangerous drug reality deserves a wide audience, especially up North. Maybe it will be read as a warning to people struggling with substance abuse: Think twice before coming down here for the help you might never receive.

Goodman: Mayors of West Palm, Delray Beach defy Trump on climate change. Good for them.

Lake Trail lives up to its name at Seaspray Avenue as flooding aggravated by the supermoon caused wet walking in Palm Beach Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (Lannis Waters / Daily News)

UPDATE – JUNE 5, 8:40 P.M.

The number of Climate Mayors has grown to 211, representing a combined population of 54 million Americans.

Two more Florida cities have now signed on to the list: Kissimmee and South Miami.

****

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein deserve praise — and their citizens’ thanks — for standing up with 184 other mayors for the Paris Climate Agreement despite President Donald Trump’s wrong-headed renunciation of the global pact.

The two mayors from Palm Beach County joined the so-called Climate Mayors, a group that stretches from Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti to New York’s Bill de Blasio, in making a strong response to Trump’s withdrawal from the accords of 195 nations to curb the planet’s warming from the burning of fossil fuels.

“As 186 Mayors representing 40 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement,” the Climate Mayors declared  Thursday, adding:

We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.

It’s a remarkable show of resolve. And it’s been matched by the governors of California, New York and Washington who’ve said they’re starting an alliance of states to stick to their own greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

Jeri Muoio

The California stance is particularly significant. The Golden State’s economy is the size of France‘s; just by maintaining its clean-air standards on cars and trucks, which are tougher than federal standards and followed by 12 other states, our most populous state will do much to counter the effect of Trump’s withdrawal.

California’s economic growth outpaces that of the U.S. as a whole, by the way — giving the lie to Trump’s basic claim that stringent climate regulations are the enemy of jobs and prosperity.

The defiance to Trump’s shortsightedness doesn’t end there. Major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard and Mars Inc., have also said they will forge ahead with their emission-reducing targets.

And there’s Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, who is spearheading an effort to take all these pledges from American cities, states and companies and submit them to the United Nations to be recognized along with the nations that have signed on to the Paris Accords. Bloomberg also pledged $15 million from his philanthropy to pay the equivalent of the U.S. share of the accord’s operating budget.

Cary Glickstein

“The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it – and we will meet our targets,” Bloomberg said.

“Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitment and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it. That’s the message mayors, governors, and business leaders all across the U.S. have been sending.”

Suddenly, the resistance has a new look. It’s not just protesters taking to the streets against the Trump regime. It’s states, cities and Fortune 500 companies defying a U.S. policy that throws science to the trash heap, plays hell with the future and self-mutilates America’s international standing.

As The Guardian explains:

The Paris accord commits countries to holding global temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, which will require global emissions to be cut to net zero by the second half of the century.

Scientists have warned that a failure to curb dangerous climate change will lead to sea level rises, more intense storms and flooding, more extreme droughts, water shortages and heat waves as well as massive loss of wildlife and reduction in crop yields, potentially sparking conflict and mass migration.

Few regions are more at risk than Florida, making part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s obtuseness all the more infuriating, and the Palm Beach County mayors’ defiance all the more welcome.

Mayors from a number of other Florida cities also signed onto the Climate Mayors list: Those of Apalachiola, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Miami, Miami Beach, Orlando, South Miami, St. Petersburg, Sunrise, Surfside, Tallahassee and Tampa.

In some ways, this shouldn’t be so surprising. Some 69 percent of Americans polled in November that the U.S. should participate in the Paris agreement. That includes about half of self-identified Trump voters. Majorities in every state, including 60 percent of Floridians, said America should stick with the Paris pact.

Climate change is real — and if this resistance to Trump’s decision is any indication, there is an avid public appetite to fight back against the efforts by the fossil fuel industry, some conservatives and now, shamefully, the White House to play ostrich while the polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise.

That last fact means that Florida — and Palm Beach County, in particular —  should be a leader in this fight. These mayors are setting a fine example.

Post endorsements: In Delray Beach, Chard and Johnson

The city commission could be in for big changes, with two seats up for election on Tuesday. It’s now a divided council, with two of the members, Shelley Petrolia and Mitch Katz, forming a reliable bloc.

The usually five-member council has been reduced to four since the board failed to agree on a replacement for Al Jacquet, who resigned in November to run for the state House. This election will restore the panel to its full complement.

Vying for Seat 2 are Jim Chard, Kelly Barrette, Richard Alteus and Anneze Barthelemy. Neither Alteus nor Barthelemy accepted invitations to meet with the Post Editorial Board.

Barrette, 54, is the founder and administrator of TakeBackDelrayBeach, a Facebook page that airs views on city issues. A six-year resident of the city and a former art gallery owner, she led a citizen campaign to appeal the lack of a two-way road within the much-disputed Atlantic Crossing downtown mixed-use project. Endorsed by Petrolia and Katz (Petrolia’s husband and Katz donated to her campaign), she said at a recent candidate forum: “When you elect me, you will have the majority of commissioners who will put the priorities of citizens first.”

Jim Chard

Chard, 72, is a retired business executive and a Harvard-trained city planner who worked in three New York City mayoral administrations. A 14-year Delray resident, He is vice chairman of the Delray’s Site Plan Review and Appearance Board, has served on the Congress Avenue Task Force and Drug Abuse Task Force, is helping rewrite the city’s Comprehensive Plan and headed Human Powered Delray to ease bicycling and walking in the city, among other civic activities. As a volunteer, he wrote $35 million in grant applications for the city, which so far have netted about $10 million.

Both Barrette and Chard say it’s urgent to grab hold of the town’s sober-home problem and guard against overdevelopment. But Chard puts a much-needed emphasis on diversifying the economy by developing class A office space, and is more thoughtful about how to build thriving neighborhoods. A slew of groups has endorsed him, including the Northwest Southwest Neighborhood Alliance and five mayors.

Chard also calls for a return to civility in the town’s politics.

“We should have five people up there that respect one another and deal with things on an objective basis,” he said, “rather than have supporters attack one another.” We agree.

For Seat 4, two longtime community activists — and former allies — are facing each other. Shirley Johnson had been Josh Smith Jr.’s campaign treasurer when he ran for city commission in 2014. Now, Johnson says she is opposing Smith because of unspecified issues of character and temperament, and says she doubts his independence because of close ties to Petrolia and Katz, whom she blames for “causing some of the divisiveness and unrest and loss of respect” emanating from the city commission.

Their split became apparent late last year when the city commission deadlocked over filling Jacquet’s vacated Seat 2. Petrolia and Katz wanted Smith. Mayor Cary Glickstein, and council member Jordana Jarjura wanted Yvonne Odom. So did every speaker who addressed the commission, including Johnson.

Smith, 76, is a 51-year Delray resident with postgraduate degrees from Florida Atlantic University. He retired from a long career as a teacher and principal in local public schools dating back to segregation days. He taught chemistry, advanced chemistry and algebra, and coached football.

Shirley Johnson

Johnson, 70, is a 38-year resident who is retired after a 26-year career in management and systems analysis at IBM. Her bachelor’s degree from Howard University is in political science.

Both candidates say they favor responsible development in West Atlantic neighborhoods and back city efforts to attack badly run sober homes. But Johnson takes a broader view of city problems, speaking of the need to bring business to the Congress Avenue corridor, preserving history with “appropriate preservation” and “getting serious” about environmental-minded policies, particularly threats from climate change.

While both candidates say they’d be independent thinkers on the commission, Smith would have to shake off suspicions that he is under the influence of the two sitting commissioners who pushed so hard to place him there several months ago.

Smith touts his frequent attendance at city commission meetings, but Johnson says she appeared there to advocate for paved roads and repaired properties in the historically black, mostly residential sections west of Swinton Avenue. Indeed, it is she who has the endorsement of the Northwest Southwest Neighborhood Alliance.

For their more reasoned approaches to city problems and their intent to bring a more civil tone to city politics, we recommend Chard and Johnson.